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Archive for the ‘Bat for Lashes’ Category

This month Natasha Khan (AKA Bat for Lashes) has given us another beautiful record, entitled “the Haunted Man.”  And I can say with certainty that I am pretty much in love with her and her music.  For many reasons.  The music is nothing short of stunning: emotional, visceral, atmospheric, imaginative, feminine, often danceable, it harkens back to elements of 80s New Wave music, Peter Gabriel, David Bowie, the Cure, and Kate Bush…but Natasha Khan really has her own sound, despite these influences.  But she definitely comes from a tradition of theatrical British musicians.  I may lose people here, but her music makes me think of chilly towns in Belgium or France in autumn with grey skies and frost on the ground.  (Around the time I discovered her music for the first time in 2009, I happened to see “In Bruges” in a hotel in Mexico City, and I was totally fascinated from that point on…with Bruges and with Bat for Lashes).

I think as human beings, we are always looking for role models — regardless of our age.  For many, many years, Tori Amos was a role model for me — through my teenage years, through my twenties.  And much of her message and music, particularly from the 90s and early 2000s, continues to be a tremendous source of inspiration, personally and musically.  But what Tori has done in recent years seems to be steeped in glitzy appearances, crazy haute couture clothes, plastic surgery, far-fetched supposedly “feminist” themes, and often over-produced sounding music.  I mean, she pretty much lost me and so many of her fans the second she used the term “MILF” in a song.  I shudder.  That hardly seems like a feminist term.  (I still love Tori, btw).

But Natasha Khan is something different, and I think frankly, something/someone more like me and my best friends…and certainly more like someone I aspire to be.  There is a naturalness to her, a lack of pretentiousness, despite her rather dramatic music.  Take the cover of her new record, for example.  She is totally naked, with an equally naked man draped over her shoulders; she is carrying him.  She said of the shot, “”I think it freaks people out because I’ve got no makeup on, there’s no retouching. It’s super-raw and wild and black and white. But that’s what Patti Smith did, that’s what PJ Harvey did, that’s what all the coolest people have done, from my icons anyway.”  Writer Caitlin White (spinner.com) states, “…a sexualized female body has become a banality that doesn’t even cause a blip — but a completely natural, make-up free woman literally supporting a man leads to endless speculation.”

I’ve always thought that some of Bat for Lashes’s music reminded me of Kate Bush, and to be totally honest, this new record has lots of Kate influence.  The vocals, the electronics, the danceable beats, the layering of textures and samples.  The song “Lilies” (see link below) off the new record sounds uncannily like KB, particularly the vocal style.  But I feel like just about every female artist I listen to (Tori, Joanna Newsom, Bat for Lashes, Austra, etc.) gets compared to KB, which of course, is a huge compliment to KB and certainly a tribute to how unbelievably influential and revolutionary she was/is.  BUT it does get to be a bit of an old cliche.  Natasha Khan says, “”I think it’s really interesting, the way that you get kind of pulled into this group of female musicians no matter how disparate and eclectic you are, just because you are a woman. I don’t see male musicians coming out … imagine if all the male musicians coming out all got grouped into one group? It’s just like, really weird to me.”  She has specifically cited Robert Smith (yay!) as a huge influence on this new record.  And maybe I’m off base here, but I hear some Michael Jackson from the “Thriller” era.

Lastly, BFL has a beautiful, other-wordly quality, which is probably also one of the reasons she’s been compared to Kate Bush.  There is a mythological figure sort of aesthetic quality to the music, and the wardrobe…though this new era doesn’t have quite the Kate Bush winged-creature costume element that Natasha tended to exhibit back in 2009.  In any case, all of it is beautiful, in my opinion.

Oh, and she sounds AMAZING and IN TUNE live.  I also want to raid her wardrobe.

I LOVE the piano sample in this live track at 2:13

As corny as this may sound, I love when she takes her robe/cape off at the end of this one!…

Maybe the most beautiful track on the record.  Magnificent:

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Natasha Khan (AKA Bat for Lashes)

Thanks to my friend & fellow-musician (and Tori fan, I might add) Jodelle, I discovered Bat For Lashes about 10 days ago, and have been pretty much listening non-stop.  I bought both her (Natasha Khan, AKA Bat for Lashes) records, “Fur and Gold” and “Two Suns,” plus a live recording which includes some tunes off both records.

To me and my taste, BFL is the perfect combination of many influences mixed with Natasha Khan’s general uniqueness.  She probably gets really tired of these comparisons, but a lot of her stuff sounds like a combination of Kate Bush (esp. Hounds of Love), 80s New Wave music (particularly on Two Suns), a tiny bit of Tori here and there, Dead Can Dance, Bjork (although I shudder at how “cool” Bjork has become particularly in artsy-fartsy jazzy scenes…yuck, sorry…yuck…too trendy for my taste…not “yuck” to Bjork herself, but I mean, the Bjorkestra?  Wtf?  It’s just a bunch of jazz musicians who – had they known me in middle school — would have thought I was a total weirdo because I listened to the Sugarcubes not to mention other uh, “alternative” bands.  And now it’s suddenly the super cool thing to do to be into her?  Sorry, maybe this is not fair to say).  I digress.  But really, at the end of the day, BFL is so eclectic and original…just too exciting!  Some of it is danceable, much of it super moody & atmospheric, lyrically filled with mythical imagery (‘a knight in crystal armor’ and ‘we saw the queen in the sky’, etc.)…GORGEOUS, imo.  Her music really takes me on a mental and visceral trip…it’s great to daydream to, it’s great to work out to, it’s great to relax to, get dressed up to go out to, etc., etc.  So many beautiful elements!  And serious tribal percussion going on on Two Suns!  Special thanks to Jodelle (whose music is fabulous, I might add) for introducing me to this incredible music.  http://www.batforlashes.com/

And Natasha Khan has the best fashion of just about anyone I’ve ever seen…maybe since Tori’s 2001 Strange Little Girls tour or 2005 Original Sinsuality tour.  Those were the best fashion-wise.  Natasha rules!  Happy listening…and viewing…

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Natasha Khan (AKA Bat for Lashes)

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